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  #51  
Old 10-24-2019, 11:12 AM
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Which in my opinion is why the media and anyone who purports to be a neutral observer should not use the term "fiscally conservative". It's not a neutral term. It suggests that conservatives are inherently more fiscally responsible than other political groups.

Some conservatives may be, in a certain political situation. In other political situations, the non-conservative party maybe more fiscally responsible.

We saw that in Canada in the early 90s, when all gouvernements were grappling with huge deficits. The socialist NDP government in Saskatchewan and the conservative PC gouvernement in next-door Alberta both engaged in major fiscal restraint. The choices they made to get to balanced budgets reflected their ideologies, but both governments were successful in eliminating their structural deficits.

Use a term like "fiscally responsible" or something that isn't linked to any party, and then judge the parties by their fiscal policies.
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  #52  
Old 10-24-2019, 12:20 PM
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Which in my opinion is why the media and anyone who purports to be a neutral observer should not use the term "fiscally conservative". It's not a neutral term. It suggests that conservatives are inherently more fiscally responsible than other political groups.

Some conservatives may be, in a certain political situation. In other political situations, the non-conservative party maybe more fiscally responsible.

We saw that in Canada in the early 90s, when all gouvernements were grappling with huge deficits. The socialist NDP government in Saskatchewan and the conservative PC gouvernement in next-door Alberta both engaged in major fiscal restraint. The choices they made to get to balanced budgets reflected their ideologies, but both governments were successful in eliminating their structural deficits.

Use a term like "fiscally responsible" or something that isn't linked to any party, and then judge the parties by their fiscal policies.
I agree. Calling someone "fiscally conservative" - as if that's a virtue - sorta cedes the issue to self-identified conservatives and Republicans in the US, and is misleading. In reality, I think the Democratic Party is more fiscally responsible than Republicans overall.

As an aside - I would argue that after the 2008 financial crash, it would have been fiscally irresponsible to balance the budget. The economy needed stimulus, and therefore higher deficits were the right thing. As growth has returned, and the Great Recession faded, I think now is the time for lower deficits or closer to balanced budgets. But we had self-identified "fiscal conservatives" who passed the Trump tax cut, which will increase the debt by trillions over the next decade.
  #53  
Old 10-24-2019, 04:06 PM
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I agree. Calling someone "fiscally conservative" - as if that's a virtue - sorta cedes the issue to self-identified conservatives and Republicans in the US, and is misleading. In reality, I think the Democratic Party is more fiscally responsible than Republicans overall.
If we defined "fiscally responsible" as having a governmental net balance of 0, you can get there by being "fiscally conservative" (low taxes and low spending) or "fiscally liberal" (high taxes and high spending). That's a legitimate distinction, and most conversations I've seen that use the term are genuinely talking about "low taxes and low spending". Although somehow when it comes to implementation both sides do the popular bits of their plan only, so you get low taxes and high spending (hey, a compromise! ).
  #54  
Old 10-24-2019, 05:56 PM
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It's all well and good to claim that you are for low spending without a plan. Back during one of the government shutdown crises awhile ago, there was at least one person who was for the debt ceiling as if this will force a reasonable chopping of spending by the executive, so I asked which programs should be cut and by how much , and the only response was some mealy mouthed version of "Not my problem! We just spend too much! Debt ceiling!"

Last edited by Ludovic; 10-24-2019 at 05:56 PM.
  #55  
Old 10-24-2019, 06:13 PM
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I read an interesting article by a former high-ranking civil service in the federal public service, who was involved in the budget-balancing by Finance Minister Martin.

He said there were two ways to get spending down : the stupid way and the reasonable way.

The stupid way consisted of the federal cabinet setting an arbitrary budge cut :"All ministries will cut their budget by 5% next fiscal year. No exceptions." He stalked it the stupid way because of the lack of discretion, lack of considering the value of affected programs, and so on.

The smart way was to set a global spending target, and then require each ministry to come up with a plan, allocating the budget cuts within their operations, showing why certain programmes should not be affected, etc.

His conclusion was that the stupid way was the only way that worked. Pretty much every government program is there for a purpose, and arguments can be advanced why a programme should not be affected. And the public servants responsible for programme A would advance all those sound policy reasons, and suggest programmes B and C were more apt for cutting. And the public servants responsible for programme abuse would argue that A and C were more ripe for cutting. And Ca of course would argue it was essential.

The former top level civil servant's conclusion was that you can't build programme reviews into a cost-cutting exercise. Just say a 5% crooks that he board cut, and let it work.

And that is what PM Chrétien did. They implemented across-the-board cuts, with one of xception ,the Ministry of Indian Affairs had its budget frozen, but no cuts. Chrétien said that as a group, indigenous people were generally at the lowest rung in Canadian society and he was not prepared to make any cuts to their programmes.

And within a few years, the "stupid way" had balanced the budget.
  #56  
Old 10-24-2019, 08:29 PM
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There may or may not actually be a moderate middle, but functionally there might as well be. It may well be a convenient fiction, like centrifugal force.
  #57  
Old 10-24-2019, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
I read an interesting article by a former high-ranking civil service in the federal public service, who was involved in the budget-balancing by Finance Minister Martin.

He said there were two ways to get spending down : the stupid way and the reasonable way.

The stupid way consisted of the federal cabinet setting an arbitrary budge cut :"All ministries will cut their budget by 5% next fiscal year. No exceptions." He stalked it the stupid way because of the lack of discretion, lack of considering the value of affected programs, and so on.

The smart way was to set a global spending target, and then require each ministry to come up with a plan, allocating the budget cuts within their operations, showing why certain programmes should not be affected, etc.

His conclusion was that the stupid way was the only way that worked. Pretty much every government program is there for a purpose, and arguments can be advanced why a programme should not be affected. And the public servants responsible for programme A would advance all those sound policy reasons, and suggest programmes B and C were more apt for cutting. And the public servants responsible for programme abuse would argue that A and C were more ripe for cutting. And Ca of course would argue it was essential.

The former top level civil servant's conclusion was that you can't build programme reviews into a cost-cutting exercise. Just say a 5% crooks that he board cut, and let it work.

And that is what PM Chrétien did. They implemented across-the-board cuts, with one of xception ,the Ministry of Indian Affairs had its budget frozen, but no cuts. Chrétien said that as a group, indigenous people were generally at the lowest rung in Canadian society and he was not prepared to make any cuts to their programmes.

And within a few years, the "stupid way" had balanced the budget.
I can see that the "stupid way" probably works, because you don't give people a chance to "save" their area from cuts. I think you see similar dynamics with large corporations.
  #58  
Old 10-25-2019, 12:14 PM
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I can see that the "stupid way" probably works, because you don't give people a chance to "save" their area from cuts. I think you see similar dynamics with large corporations.
Beyond that, I'd wager that almost all programs/departments in governments and private enterprise probably have 5% worth of wiggle room in their budgets somewhere, and can still get their jobs done at 95% the previous budget.

There would need to be a review process at some point though- while most can work with a 5% cut, a 10% cut might be the sort of thing that cuts services or impacts readiness, etc...
  #59  
Old 10-26-2019, 12:44 PM
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This is a really important 538 article that ... rebuts the myth, quite popular on and off this board, that there exists some large group of "moderate" voters who feel that both major parties are too extreme and are looking for a "centrist" alternative.
Interesting graphs, which do indeed rebut that myth.

There is also a group of "centrists" — I don't know where they fit in the fivethirtyeight diagram — whose guiding philosophy is "divided government." If they vote for a D President, they'll vote for R Congressmen and vice versa, hoping to hobble government and force legislative stalemates. Trying to prevent changes, even for the better, doesn't strike me as "moderation."
  #60  
Old 10-27-2019, 05:21 PM
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I consider myself to be fairly moderate.

But 31 is my favorite prime number
Absurd! How can you feel that 31 is your favorite prime number. Mine is 9,999,999,967.

SPOILER:
It is the largest prime using 10 decimal digits. Around 1980, I wrote a program for the HP-97 programmable calculator with a 10 digit display that found it.


I consider myself moderate in the sense that I like most of Bernie's proposals but I would like to get to them slowly by a kind of tacking. Try something and continually modify it to improve it. I think Obamacare had and has such a potential. Put back the tax, make a public option for everybody, gradually improve it until private insurance cannot compete and we evolve to medicare for all. A different proposal I like is to lower the age of eligibility by one year every year. After all, we in Canada have medicare for all at 60% of the cost of US care. Yes, life is thinner for doctors and hospitals--all non-profit--but it works.

That said, I have to admit I have never voted for a Republican and likely never will.
  #61  
Old 10-29-2019, 05:42 PM
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I don’t think there’s a “moderate” middle, but there is a large swath of people that barely care and don’t pay much attention, and rarely vote. When they do vote, they tend to go by their gut and usually vote for whoever they think could actually fix all the stuff they see as broken.
  #62  
Old 10-30-2019, 05:40 AM
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You're trying to argue that because there's no cluster right at the middle, that there's no "moderate" or "centrist" position, and the rest of us are saying that that self-identified 1/3 does center, if not cluster around the middle, and politicians would be making a mistake to assume that because there's no cluster there, that it can be safely ignored.
I don't think the clustering is the point at all. It's immaterial if the moderates cluster in one group. What is important is what the nature of "moderate" beliefs are.

The usual belief is that moderates are people who hold less extreme versions of beliefs. They are, in effect, in the middle. But that doesn't align with the actual data. The actual data shows that moderates are most often either people who have no real position at all on issues, or who have some positions from both sides.

Neither of these groups responds well to the usual moderate push, which is to water down more extreme positions. One group isn't paying attention to the positions at all, and the other consists of people who actually support more extreme positions and are turned off by watering them down.

It makes sense: instead of trying to appeal to some mythical moderate, pick the issues that both moderates and your extreme care about, and push those. Don't try to appeal to some hypothetical person "in the middle."

No one is arguing that moderates can be ignored. Just that conventional strategy won't work.

I'd even add an additional strategy of trying to appeal to low-information voters. I've seen more of that on the right than the left. Or, at least, the left seems to think the solution is to give more information. But if they are low information by choice, that won't work. The right is better at giving simplistic reasons so that low-information voters can stay low information yet vote Republican.

As much as the left mocks them, we need those bumper sticker slogans. We just need to make sure there is meat to back them up so that the higher information voters don't get turned off by it.

It's why I think having a very charismatic candidate is so important. That is one thing that appeals to low-information voters. And, as I've said, they've always won in my life time. (Trump may not be charismatic to you or me, but he was to a good portion of the electorate, while Clinton wasn't charismatic even to her supporters.) Charisma inspires passion, and passion is what gets votes.

Last edited by BigT; 10-30-2019 at 05:44 AM.
  #63  
Old 10-30-2019, 06:45 AM
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... The actual data shows that moderates are most often either people who have no real position at all on issues, or who have some positions from both sides.
...
It's why I think having a very charismatic candidate is so important.... Charisma inspires passion, and passion is what gets votes.
BigT's post is very informative in its entirety, but I want to comment on the part I've reddened (a point I tried to make here several months ago).

With only two possible exceptions the more charismatic candidate has won every Presidential election of my lifetime. (The possible exceptions were non-charismatic Nixon beating non-charismatic Humphrey, and the defeat of the charismatic Goldwater.)

But what prescription does this provide us for the present election? The only Democratic candidate with outstanding charisma is ... Bernie Sanders!
  #64  
Old 10-30-2019, 10:43 AM
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If Trump is "charismatic" then I just don't understand charisma. Trump is only appealing if you're an idiot and a conspiracy theorist. I watch him speak and every word is a lie, or bashing someone undeservedly, or just transparently stupid.

Out of the democratic candidates, Pete G strikes me as extremely charismatic. Kamala too, as long as she stays out of angry mode. Warren is charismatic, but more like a teacher than a leader. Much of her charisma relies on her wit.

But again, I may be the wrong person to judge.
  #65  
Old 10-30-2019, 02:04 PM
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If Trump is "charismatic" then I just don't understand charisma. Trump is only appealing if you're an idiot and a conspiracy theorist. I watch him speak and every word is a lie, or bashing someone undeservedly, or just transparently stupid.

Out of the democratic candidates, Pete G strikes me as extremely charismatic. Kamala too, as long as she stays out of angry mode. Warren is charismatic, but more like a teacher than a leader. Much of her charisma relies on her wit.

But again, I may be the wrong person to judge.
Trump wasn't charismatic in the Obama way. Well spoken, attractive etx

He reached to those who wanted real change in the Oval Office, Politics as usual was and likely still is seen as a bad bad thing.

People do want change, they bought the hope and change rhetoric that Obama sold them. But they do see politicians as the swamp and lots and lots of folks want that swamp drained.
  #66  
Old 10-30-2019, 02:21 PM
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People do want change, they bought the hope and change rhetoric that Obama sold them. But they do see politicians as the swamp and lots and lots of folks want that swamp drained.
And they probably still feel this way, but will they fall for the con again? Do they still think Trump or someone like him is their savior from the elitist swamp government? Apparently based on polls, most of them do.
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Old 10-30-2019, 02:31 PM
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And they probably still feel this way, but will they fall for the con again? Do they still think Trump or someone like him is their savior from the elitist swamp government? Apparently based on polls, most of them do.
I would not be a good judge of how far is too far for that bridge but a lot of them likely do see the things Trump does as sticks in the eye of the establishment politicians.
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Old 10-30-2019, 05:03 PM
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Although I follow American politics, I only have real experience with Canada.

In Canada, all of the political parties are basically moderate. Certainly the Liberals and Conservatives. The “socialist” New Democrat Party has an international left-wing rating of 3 out of 8 (extreme). The recent PPC is not included and it’s future may be uncertain. Most Canadians are not partisan, although the number of partisans is said to have recently doubled.

Vermont, Maine, Montana and Minnesota don’t seem terribly removed from Canada to me.

More extreme views get all the airtime; suck up all the oxygen. A person can be moderate but still support climate issues or have some Catholic beliefs or want a strong military — being “extreme on one issue”, however defined, hardly means moderate majority is a myth. Is it true most people really don’t have some friends who are and aren’t Trump supporters? Even I do, and Trump is only popular with 10% of Canucks.
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Old 10-30-2019, 05:10 PM
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Having read the 538 article, it basically says some people who are non-partisan use labels like moderate, independent, both, etc. People who self- identify as moderate have various views about immigration and redistribution (an egalitarian vs. Market orientation).

I don’t see this as that surprising. Since there are many other issues, and since parties are adopting harder views on issues which may not be purely political (e.g. climate change)... it is not surprising people may describe themselves as independent compared to a party consensus. I don’t see why you can’t be moderate if you support a somewhat winged approach on one issue, for most issues.
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Old 10-30-2019, 06:50 PM
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Do they still think Trump or someone like him is their savior from the elitist swamp government? Apparently based on polls, most of them do.
They absolutely do. I have no idea how he managed it, but a real-estate billionaire from New fucking York with business contracts all over the world managed to sell himself as a "man of the people" and "against globalists". The most hilarious (or discouraging, depending) thing is that Trump told them *to their faces* that "drain the swamp" was empty bullshit he only says because it gets applause.
Shit's wild, man.
  #71  
Old 10-30-2019, 07:14 PM
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They absolutely do. I have no idea how he managed it, but a real-estate billionaire from New fucking York with business contracts all over the world managed to sell himself as a "man of the people" and "against globalists". The most hilarious (or discouraging, depending) thing is that Trump told them *to their faces* that "drain the swamp" was empty bullshit he only says because it gets applause.
Shit's wild, man.
I read a reddit comment about brexit talking about this kind of thing and the commenter made a really good point: Disenfranchised people were basically just thrilled that got to vote against the system on the ballot, and they don't actually care if this saves them from getting fucked over by the establishment. They think they're getting fucked either way, so they want someone who in their minds is going to punish the people who have been screwing them over. Unfortunately I think if this mindset is prevalent, no one will ever convince these angry voters by arguing that their preferred issue/candidate is going to be really bad for the country because psychologically that's the entire point.
  #72  
Old 10-30-2019, 08:56 PM
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Two seemingly contradictory ideas are true:

1. It is correct to think there is a myth of the moderate middle as described in the OP link.

2. Moderate candidates are more likely to win.

How this can be is explained in my next link, one which is IMHO even more important than the OP:

Candidate Ideology and Turning Out the Base

Here's how I see the dynamic explained in my link working.

Suppose Trump is the GOP nominee. He's perceived as too extreme, so many people who are vaguely on the left, but often don't bother to vote, will think November 2020 is one of the few elections really worth voting in. This doesn't prove Trump can't win, but it makes him a weak nominee (as he was when he lost the popular vote in 2016).

But suppose Pence is the GOP nominee. High information left-leaning voters may see him as worse than Trump, but almost all of those were going to vote Democratic anyway.

What about the lazy, vaguely on the left voters? They would perceive Pence, because of his lower-temperature aura, as being not nearly as bad as Trump. Many would then decide they had something better to do than voting. This makes Pence a strong candidate.

I think the same dynamic makes Biden a stronger candidate than Warren. Lazy FoxNews watchers would go out in the rain to stop Warren but not Biden. The strongest Democratic nominee would be a boring unknown moderate like, oh, Senator Michael Bennet.
  #73  
Old 10-30-2019, 11:32 PM
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You are only looking at one side of the equation. Sure there’s an oppositional hype factor, but there’s also a turning out the base factor. For every moderate voter who stays home because they don’t feel motivated to vote against a particular candidate, there is someone more on the fringe who thinks “meh, Clinton and Trump are just two sides of the same problem” and doesn’t feel motivated to vote because they don’t feel either represents them. You think Bernie/Warren voters are gonna be jazzed about voting for Biden? He will turn out less of the democratic base than they would IMO.
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Old 10-31-2019, 07:06 PM
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For every moderate voter who stays home because they don’t feel motivated to vote against a particular candidate, there is someone more on the fringe who thinks “meh, Clinton and Trump are just two sides of the same problem” and doesn’t feel motivated to vote because they don’t feel either represents them.
If I understand my link correctly, the ratio is more like three-to-one than the one-to-one you quote (page 13).

Now, that's for congressional elections. Someone can always say that presidential elections are different, and, due to the small sample size, I can't refute it, even though I don't buy it.

What I may buy is that, as a former Republican, and self-appointed savior of capitalism, Elizabeth Warren is in better position than some think to convince lazy right-of-center types that she isn't all that scary. Given his Trotskyite history (ran for Socialist Workers Party presidential elector at age 39), I question whether Sanders could, or even would try to, similarly pivot.
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